Likes & Dislikes

Opinions

“What did you like the most?

• Biking around Lagoa (Lake) and relaxing at the Amazon Bar on the lake at sunset.

What else did you like a lot?

• The patience and good humor of Rio people
• The many handsome, relaxed guys
• Nature within Rio (Lagoa, beaches - especially Barra da Tijuca - and the tropical forest)
• The party under a bridge where a lot of young people danced a choreography they learned from YouTube
• Bicycle paths almost everywhere
• Seniors working out in parks
• Casual and fun nightlife
• The San Teresa district
• The Leblon and Gava districts
• The youth hostel at the top of the favela
• The Carioca Cup match at Maracana
• The free walking tour of the Centro, led by two amazingly enthusiastic and excellent storytellers, and although the Centro was pretty ugly and crowded, a lot of basic things could be learned about Rio’s history, and it was enjoyable to see the two girls’ adoration for their city
• The Selaron stairs

I liked the amazing natural landscape of Rio. Lots of ugly buildings. It was good to explore many neighborhoods. Basic exercise facilities have been incorporated into the city’s infrastructure and are used by ordinary people. Rio people like to show off their physical endowments, whether those are to their advantage or disadvantage. Surprisingly, this otherwise disordered population line up in neat queues everywhere.” (Marion, 2016)


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Close up, Rio isn’t as glittering and attractive as many people imagine. Most hotels, bars, and restaurants are stuck at the standards of the 70s and 80s. There are very few genuinely trendy places to be found. But at least everywhere you go you can taste Brazil's national drink, a very strong, pure, raw rum called "cachaça". If this drink, which is made from fermented sugar cane, is mixed with lime juice, sugar, and ice, you can enjoy a popular cocktail, "caipirinha". Among the non-alcoholic beverages, guarana is the best known, but it should be treated with caution because it has a very high caffeine content and raises energy levels sharply.

Practicals

Transport

Car rental

For a tourist, driving a rental car in Rio is nonsense. It is difficult, and you can easily get lost, even if using Waze or Maps. You may end up in a dangerous area.  
If you stick to Zona Sul, the metro carries you wherever you want to go. Uber is plenty and cheap, even if you wish to visit the most remote beaches like Prainha.

Metro

There are only two metro lines in Rio so far, so you can not enjoy an extensive network. The metro ticket costs 3.50 reals (about 70 USD Cent) and is sold at the stations. These ticket counters do not sell bus tickets, but you can buy a combination of metro and bus tickets ("inclusivo") for 4.40 real, only to be used for bus services that go to metro stations.

In the metro stations, floor signs indicate where each metro car's door will stop. The metro is clean, well-organized and the subway stations look nice. Metro transport is privately-owned, and that seems to be an advantage.

However, avoid taking the metro in peak times, because there is a terrible crowd, with shoving, savage passengers. On weekdays, during peak hours (between 7 and 9 a.m., and between 5 and 7 p.m.), one metro car is reserved exclusively for women. Men can not take these cars. In this way, women do not have to suffer from sly touchings by male pigs.

Bus

Most bus services arrive every two minutes. Buses run from 5 am to midnight. You can buy a ticket in cash or with a magnetic card pass. Fares range from 2.75 to 3.10 reals (depending on the comfort level). The transfer is not possible with a cash ticket but with a magnetic card.

The purchase of a magnetic card is a bit complicated for a first-time visitor, so use cash. Always prepare an adequate amount of small change, because the bus drivers hate struggle with the odd money (as locals mostly use a pass). The situation in its regard is easier if a cashier is employed on the bus. (By the way, we have noticed that most of the bus cashiers happen to be overweight black women.) 

Years back, taking a bus was risky because of the pickpockets. The situation has improved; still, we advise you to take a bus only during the day and in safer neighborhoods.

You better know that buses often don’t halt at a stop if no one well seen flags them down.

Biking

In Rio, cycling is also a practical option for tourists, especially when getting to the beaches. Many bikers use the sidewalk. Many of those using the streetway are biking irresponsibly.  There are not many bike paths in Rio compared to the size of the city. The easiest way to cycle is along the beaches and around the lake (Lagoa).

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"When taking taxis within the city, we never experienced any rip-off practices on the part of the taxi drivers. However, none of our taxi drivers could speak English – fortunately, we were able to communicate with them by speaking Spanish. We never got conned, but we did encounter plenty of cluelessness. Several times we had the impression that our taxi driver has no idea where the destination was, or how to get there the most practical. We did not sense any duplicity, but rather the same negligence and slack service that we perceived in all areas in Rio. Taxis are really not very expensive, but distances in this city are large, so we had to spend a lot on taxis. The journey between Copacabana/Ipanema and Centro, for instance, would be worth building a metro line for.” (Aji, 2018)





Accomodation

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Rio de Janeiro - 5-star Belmond Copacabana Palace

Food

There are three main types of restaurants in Rio:

1. traditional with menu
2. self-service ,,comida por quilo" - the price is based on the total weight of the food items
3. Churrasco (or Rodízio) - or more accurately churrascaria, where the waiters are permanently moving among the tables and place slices of different meats on the customer's plates - Of course, waiters bring side dishes, but guests can serve themselves extra from the salad and tapas bars. It is an all-you-can-eat system, with a fixed price, regardless of the consumed amount.

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"If you love beef meat, Rio will be a heaven for you. I've experienced both good and bad per kilo canteens. I loved the beef-rice-cassava-bean combo that you can find in almost every per kilo canteen." (Marion, 2019)



Rio de Janeiro - authentic corner bar

Rio de Janeiro - Confeitaria Colombo - r.a. photo

Shopping

Money exchange

There is a currency exchange on arrival at the airport, even before customs (opens at 7. a.m). There is also a 24-hour currency exchange both after the customs.
Do not use ATMs at the airport because of the card's misuse. There are plenty of currency exchange offices in the city. Not all of them seem reassuring at first, and the procedure is too open to the street, which is a problem in such an unsafe city. Still, these offices are reliable and offer a better exchange rate than banks.

The safety is the only advantage of exchanging money in a bank. Security measures are strict (screening, etc.).  Disadvantages: they charge a considerable handling fee.
It is forbidden to make phone calls or even texting inside the bank.

Bank card payments

All restaurants, bars, and almost all supermarkets accept credit cards, mostly Visa and Mastercard. Pay a taxi by credit card is complicated and not recommended. On the beaches, the kiosks don't accept card payments.

Shopping

Imported goods, especially those of European origin, are very expensive due to high tariffs. You better buy local products.
In Rio, the Copacabana district offers the most relevant shopping opportunities for tourists. The main shopping streets are Nossa Senhora de Copacabana and the main road of Bara Ribeiro. In the Ipanema district, there are streets with more elegant shops and boutiques, like Visconde de Piraja, Avenue in Ataulfo ​​de Paiva. For handicrafts, naive paintings, the gift shops go to Santa Teresa neighborhood.


Fun

,, For music and dance at night, go to Lapa (a neighborhood in downtown Rio) but beware, there are very nice bars with good music and bad nightclubs in the same area."

Most of Rio’s samba schools are in favelas (slums).

Public safety

Basic rules:

1. Be careful with your belongings, especially at the beaches; if possible, carry as little things as possible.

Leave watches, jewelry, necklace, bracelet in the hotel safe or in your rented apartment. Leave even the cheap ones, as the criminals are unable to assess the value at first glance.  If you do not have any tempting valuable on or with you, there is a good chance that the muggers will go for another victim.

Don't resist in any manner the criminal! Mostly those victims suffer injury who try to fight back. Do not underestimate the danger just because the muggers are teenagers (or even under 10). Most of them are fearless and have a knife or pistol.

Have some cash (,,mug money") to make the mugger happy by little loss for you, like a 50 real banknote (about 10 USD). In the event of an attack, raise your hands high and let them empty your pockets. They will happily leave you by taking your 50 real.

If you need to carry with you a larger amount of money, hide them well, invisibly on your body. Forget about a waist bag!

Have with you only as much cash and value, of which loss you would not regret dramatically.  If muggers would take your 50 USD worth of camera,     
your joy to be in Rio is still not ruined.  

Nowadays, criminals are, especially after iPhone-s. In open spaces, only use them for phone calls or photos if you see locals visible carrying ones. If you take photos with an iPhone or an iPod, save the essential data.

2. Don't ever let your credit card out of your sight (risk of cloning). Bring to Brazil two credit cards but have with you one at a time.

3. Limit the time you spend in the streets at night. The more deserted is a street, the more dangerous it is. Of course, there are plenty of totally safe neighborhoods in Rio.
Late night, use Uber or cab coops to get back to your accommodation. Take a taxi with a company name and phone number.

4. On the famous beaches and parts of the promenade, be particularly alert if you see a group of 12-14-year-old kids.  They are outstanding in muggings because they are underage to be sent to prison.  If they see jewelry, a watch, a camera, a cell phone, they are ready to attack, even near a police station.
Don't walk alone on Rio's beaches after dark. If you want to swim, by all means, go to Arpoador beach at one end of Ipanema beach.

5. Possibly, avoid Centro, downtown Rio on weekends. 

5. Do not visit a slum on your own unless a reliable source suggests a relatively safe one. Many slums are under the control of a drug lord.

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,, We spent ten days in Rio, and we had no security problem at all. We didn't even see suspicious figures, gangs who made us alert. We walked to many places, daytime, late at night. We were careful, we looked around suspiciously initially, but then we weren't very concerned about potential dangers. We tried to seem local as much as we could." (j.k., 2017)

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I was pleased to see that there is police surveillance everywhere, and tourists are well protected. I walked along Copacabana with the iPhone in my hand, almost confidently. (mi., 2018)

Rio de Janeiro - cops in shorts and tracksuits - j.k. photo

Health

,, Some areas of the city are surprisingly clean (except during Carnival). Every early morning sanitation workers are sweeping away rubbish.  After every rainstorm, puddles are swept away to avoid stagnant water. Before the Zika virus, locals worried about Dengue fever, so most residents (called Cariocas), and the city government, were already very conscious of potential mosquito breeding grounds.

Background

Destination in brief

Population (in 2020): 6 million in the city area and 13.5 million in the urban area

Average net monthly salary (in 2020): 320 USD  -  (Brazil's average: 330 USD) (Sao Paulo:480 USD)

Geography

Rio de Janeiro means January River, but the river is, in fact, a bay.

Rio de Janeiro has probably the world’s bluest sky

Rio de Janeiro - sunset

Rio de Janeiro - a favela - on the hillside as all others

Nowadays

Not all favelas are the same! Rio has over a thousand favela communities. Many of them are working-class communities active in self-improvement, from implementing green energy solutions to community-wide art projects, among many other initiatives.

People

,, The tourist superficially observes that most of the locals are so easy-going, casual. However, in the background, Cariocas are full of personal problems but hide their troubles, tend to show themselves happy. " 

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"Brazilians are passionate about queuing. Having lived in Berlin for a long time, I know what I'm talking about: Rio's inhabitants like queuing better than the Germans do!! Rio is also the street food capital of the world. The best are the corner padarias, i.e. bakeries, where fresh and sometimes mysterious baked goods are sold alongside freshly squeezed orange juice - and thousands of other types of juices. A fruit salad made from fresh ingredients costs only about a dollar. So even though Brazilians are, on average, a good deal poorer than Americans and Europeans, they don’t have it so bad. Climate and a predilection for sports also help, as does the fact that they just seem to have a more positive outlook on life.

The inhabitants of Rio (and Brazilians in general) love air conditioning. The most annoying thing is when you get on the 15-degree bus from 35 degrees and then leave with sinusitis that starts in half an hour. In the same way, they overdo it with the ice cubes (5-6 ice cubes are happily thrown into an ice-cold drink taken out of the fridge). In addition to this mania for the cold, the second most annoying thing – and at the same time very frightening – is the dengue mosquito, against which there is no antidote and whose bite can even (though rarely) be fatal. Defending against this poses a huge dilemma: do you smear a liter of mosquito repellent over yourself? But then when do you apply sunscreen? Or you put on sunscreen instead? But what if a dengue mosquito is just approaching?

If you don’t have a local friend, and if you visibly look like a tourist, you can expect that plenty of people will try to scam you. If you call them out on it they generally back down. I got really annoyed, for example, when I was in Ipanema Gardens and I ordered a cup of mate, and the seller tried to overcharge me by a real just because he heard from my accent that I wasn’t Brazilian. You have to spend a lot of time in traffic jams in Rio, so when the traffic does start moving again the drivers wait for no man, they just floor the gas. EVERY bus driver, whether in the city or on long-distance routes, drives like a maniac idiot, and this is only funny for a short while. After a hundred kilometers or so it gets VERY scary.” (2018)




Attractions

Sugarloaf Mountain

Corcovado - the statue of Christ

Rio - the statue of Christ - v.g. photo

Copacabana

Copacabana from above - K. Elter photo

Rio de Janeiro - Copacabana at sunset

Ipanema

Many say, it is better to swim at Ipanema than at Copacabana.

Rio - Ipanema - j.k. photo

Leblon

Rio - Leblon beach - j.k. photo

Lapa

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